Students stay creative despite big cuts
February 9, 2010 9:06 PM
SF State's voice department took on the difficult task of performing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera, "Cosi Fan Tutte," despite a severe budget cut in the College of Creative Arts, leaving no money for the traditional full scale opera this spring semester.
Determined to still put on a show, the cast, which consisted of approximately ten lead roles, 10 chorus members and 15 orchestra members, rehearsed on their own, provided their own costumes, created their set, and rehearsed on their own time.
"We have the talent, and we want people to know that even without money, we can still put on an opera," voice major Joshua Bled, 22, said.
With California as a state facing a significant financial crisis, it was no surprise that the budget cuts would trickle down to the voice department.
"When we found out that there was no budget to put on a full scale opera, I was crushed," Bled said. "Seniority plays a big role in it. I haven't had a chance to play lead until this semester."
"It then became about the cast putting together a show despite the odds," he said.
The department, which suffered budget cuts in the early 90s, has since been successfully rejuvenated in the early 2000s. Stage director and voice faculty advisor Alissa Deeter, who did not want to see the current voice program devolve, continued to direct the production with a guerilla-style mentality.
"The term 'guerilla' refers to an unconventional production that relies on time, energy and imagination rather than a big budget," Deeter said. "The students got an intimate look at how theater can be produced on essentially no budget."
"After I came to the realization that we weren't going to get any [funding] for this production, I became very skeptical," voice major Kayleigh Loe, 23, said. "We were going to be doing this production very minimalist, and I was worried it would not do the opera justice."
Deeter found it empowering to see students accept the challenges inherent in a no-budget opera and succeed. "Never underestimate the potential and commitment of students and staff," she said. "The beauty of the art form can be realized in numerous ways, and if one can keep his or her mind open to the possibilities, there always a way."
Relying mainly on Facebook and word-of-mouth advertising, the show opened with a big bang, bringing in several hundred people during last week's opening weekend, according to Bled.
Set in high school, "Cosi Fan Tutte," which translates into "women are like that," explores women's infidelity and how if they had the opportunity, they would cheat on their men. The story centers on two sisters and their football-player boyfriends. With the help of Ron Alfonoso, the sisters' teachers, the men decide to play a prank on their women and disguise themselves as foreign exchange students, trying to woo each other's women.
"Cosi Fan Tutte" will be playing at the Knuth Hall from Feb. 12 to 14. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
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